A very important album for the Isley Brothers, 1969's It's Our Thing found Ronald, O'Kelly and Rudolph Isley reviving their T-Neck label and marked the beginning of their association with Buddah (where they would remain until moving T-Neck to Epic/CBS in 1973). Creatively, this excellent LP put the siblings in the driver's seat -- they did all of the producing and songwriting themselves -- and they enjoyed the type of artistic freedom that they could only dream about when they were with Tamla/Motown from 1965-1968. At Tamla/Motown, Berry Gordy's team of producers and songwriters called the shots, but at T-Neck/Buddah, the Isleys' own vision was allowed to flourish. And that creative freedom made It's Our Thing a commercial triumph as well as an artistic one. The funky title track soared to number two on the R&B charts, and equally invigorating gems like "Give the Women What They Want" and "I Know Who You Been Socking It To" also went down in history as soul classics. Nor are tough, gritty album tracks like "He's Got Your Love" and "I Must Be Losing My Touch" anything to complain about. It's Our Thing made it clear that Tamla/Motown's loss was Buddah's gain.[allmusic] Here
A taste of Latin funk & soul mastery from Ricardo Marrero – the wholly excellent Taste LP from 1976 – a record as legendary for its rarity as for the slow cookers and uptempo funky gems on it! It's wonderful stuff, and the kind of record that justifiably revered by the few who've had a chance to enjoy it over the years – a record that pushes the stylistic boundaries of 70s NYC salsa with it's impeccable jazzy musicianship, spacey flourishes, sometimes salsa and sometimes soul steeped vocals, and tighter, Latin funk instrumental passages. Marrero's work on the keys is totally top notch, but The Group more than earns its capital letter status, to say the least! Titles include "Tiny", "Algo", "And We'll Make Love", "Vengo", "Get Yourself Together", "Babalonia", "My Friend" and "A Taste Of Latin". CD version includes 2 bonus tracks: alternate versions of "Algo" and "Babalonia". ............................ The story of this album begins in New York during the mid-’70s. It’s a story of stolen master tapes, shady deals and records deliberately made NOT to be sold. It’s the story of the musical obsession of one man who has devoted his life to music and how he was sold down the river by unscrupulous record industry moguls. It’s also the story of one of the rarest, most in demand and expensive records the world has ever known, with only a handful of copies of this super LP ever being found. Demand for the solid music within has led to a bidding frenzy whenever a copy has surfaced – the latest one on eBay fetched £2855 – that’s an amazing $4000! Records don’t get much more collectable than that, and so we have no hesitation of awarding a coveted ‘Holy Grail’ status to this LP, the third in our acclaimed series. Why so rare? We spoke to Ricardo himself to find out, and his remarkable story is revealed in the CD liners for the first time ever. He speaks about the recording of the album and his disappointment at the stolen tapes, his ill-fated association with boxing legend Don King, and the making of the legendary latin funk anthem ‘Babalonia’, which underwent no less than 4 pressings[jazzman records] Here
Even ardent consumers of Brenda Lee's prolific album output can be forgiven for feeling as though her '60s albums all began to sound the same. That impression only deepened as the decade wore on, but in 1963 Lee's bottomless fund of pop ballads could still seem fresh. ..................... Let Me Sing begins predictably enough with a Cole Porter song ("Night and Day") but also includes "Break It to Me Gently" -- one of Lee's greatest '60s hits -- and "Losing You." Bobby Darin's "You're the Reason I'm Living" is the kind of cover material preferable to the traditional pop songs that tended to dominate Lee's ballad albums, but Let Me Sing manages to sound vital where very similar albums failed later in her career. Not surprisingly, Let Me Sing was also Lee's second-to-last Top 40 album.[allmusic] Here
That Satin Doll pairs Carol Stevens with arranger Phil Moore to create one of the more unique and evocative major-label LPs of its era. Stevens' breathy, often haunting voice largely eschews conventional vocal approaches in favor of ethereal, wordless humming that perfectly complements Moore's exotic settings -- there's something profoundly otherworldly yet curiously sexy about the record, and you just know Captain Kirk kept a copy handy to set the mood while banging green-skinned alien chicks aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. ............................ Flautist Herbie Mann, guitarist Barry Galbraith and trumpeter Don Elliott further underscore That Satin Doll's moonlit beauty, contributing wonderfully nuanced performances that lend the music its distinctly jazzy appeal.[allmusic] Here
Teddy Pendergrass started singing gospel music in Philadelphia churches, becoming an ordained minister at ten years old. While attending public school, he sang in the citywide McIntyre Elementary School Choir and in the All-City Stetson Junior High School Choir. A self-taught drummer, Pendergrass had a teen pop vocal group when he was 15. By his late teens, Pendergrass was a drummer for local vocal group the Cadillacs. .............................. In the late '60s, the Cadillacs merged with another more established group, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. In 1970, when the Blue Notes broke up, Melvin, now aware of Pendergrass' vocal prowess, asked him to take the lead singer spot. It's no secret that Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff wanted Marvin Junior of the Dells for their Philadelphia International Records roster. Since the Dells were signed to Chess, they were unavailable. When the gruff'n'ready vocals of Pendergrass came their way, they eagerly signed the group. Beginning with "I Miss You," a steady stream of hit singles flowed from the collaboration of Pendergrass and Gamble & Huff: "If You Don't Know Me by Now," "The Love I Lost," "Bad Luck," "Wake Up Everybody" (number one R&B for two weeks in 1976), and two gold albums, To Be True and Wake Up Everybody. .............................. Unfortunately, the more success the group had, the more friction developed between Melvin and Pendergrass. Despite the revised billing of the group, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass, Pendergrass felt that he wasn't getting enough recognition. Around 1976, Pendergrass left Melvin's Blue Notes and formed his own Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass. Briefly, there was some confusion as to which Blue Notes were which. The resolution came when Pendergrass disbanded his Blue Notes in favor of a solo career and Melvin's group signed a recording contract with Source Records, distributed through ABC Records, scoring a hit with "I Want to Be Your Lover." .............................. Pendergrass signed a new contract with Philadelphia International Records in late 1976/early 1977. He burst back on the scene with Teddy Pendergrass, a platinum solo debut that included the top-notch singles "I Don't Love You Anymore," "You Can't Hide from Yourself," and "The More I Get the More I Want." Around this time, Pendergrass began to institute his infamous "Ladies Only" concerts. His next three albums went gold or platinum: Life Is a Song Worth Singing (1978), Teddy (1979), and Teddy Live (Coast to Coast). The hit single "Close the Door" was used in the film Soup for One, where Pendergrass had a small role.[allmusic] .............................. Note: This album includes the KILLER funk "Get Up, Get Down, Get Funky,Get Loose". Don't miss it! Here
Issued by Blue Thumb in 1974, Don't Let Go was Ben Sidran's third for the label, and his fourth overall. After his 1971 debut on Capitol, Feel Your Groove -- a rootsy, bluesy, and jazzy rock record, populated by everyone from Peter Frampton to Jesse Ed Davis -- Sidran began to indulge his jazz muse, and by 1974 the transformation was complete; he fit right in with Blue Thumb's funky, wide-reaching jazz, funk, fusion, and whatever-else-comes-down-the-pipe-that's-interesting philosophy. After all, this was the label that had issued recordings by Phil Upchurch, Luis Gasca, Mark-Almond, Ike & Tina Turner, the Crusaders, Sun Ra, Dan Hicks, the Last Poets, the Pointer Sisters, Paul Humphrey, Captain Beefheart, and Robbie Basho, among others. The players surrounding Sidran on this session are stellar; some of them had been recording with him since his second album, I Lead a Life. The players here include Upchurch, Clyde Stubblefield, Bunky Green, Sonny Seals (the saxophonist), Tom Piazza, James Curly Cooke, and Randy Fullerton. Musically, the material walks a thin line between funky and straighter jazz and pop with an equal division between vocal and instrumental numbers over its 12 tracks. Sidran was establishing himself as a serious pianist and intricate composer, and as a songwriter with Mose Allison's sophisticated sense of irony. The set opens with the killer, funked up instrumental "Fat Jam" composed by Cooke. One can hear traces of the Bill Cosby television show in Cooke's lyric line, but with its killer shimmering cymbal work, breaks, and the low-slung yet taut bassline, it's something else, too. When Sidran's Rhodes piano kicks into high gear with the Sonny Burke-arranged horns it becomes a smoking intro to a record that, in spite of its wide-ranging ambition, succeeds on virtually every level. Being pushed to this sense of hot groove, Sidran changes up on his cover of the roadhouse standard "House of Blue Lights." It starts with a spoken word hipster rant that abruptly shifts into a fine nearly spoken read of the boogie-woogie crazy original. Sidran's pianism is red hot and rooted in the Albert Ammons stride, and the rhythm section lights it up when he goes into a solo that moves right into bebop. Given how dizzy the proceeding is, this is only the beginning; as it turns out, Don't Let Go contains some of Sidran's most memorable songs, including the darkly cool "Ben Sidran's Midnite Tango," with a fine string arrangement that outdoes Michael Franks at his own game. There is also the slow strutting jazz shuffle "She's Funny That Way" and the proto-uptown soul stepper "Hey Hey Baby." Of the instrumentals, the low-key funky jazz of "The Chicken Glide," and the now infamous "Snatch" are the highlights, but these are all terrific. Don't Let Go only made it onto CD in Japan, but that shouldn't stop you from scoring a legal download from Verve's out-of-print online store or iTunes. This is a killer, adventurous record from a magical time that doesn't sound a bit dated in the 21st century.[allmusic] Here
Pianist Ben Sidran grew up in Racine, WI. In the early '60s, he played with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs in a band called the Ardells at the University of Wisconsin. After Miller moved to San Francisco and secured a recording contract, he called on old friend Sidran to join him in the Steve Miller Band following the departure of original keyboardist Jim Peterman. Sidran contributed on the keys and as songwriter on several Miller albums beginning with Brave New World in 1969, co-writing the classic "Space Cowboy" and three other tunes on that LP. He also authored "Steve Miller's Midnight Tango" on Number 5 and collaborated with Miller on several other tunes through the years. He produced his friend's under appreciated release, Recall the Beginning...A Journey From Eden in 1972. Sidran received a Ph.D. in philosophy/musicology, writing his doctoral thesis on African-American culture and music in the United States. The thesis was published to positive critical response in 1971 as Black Talk. Since 1972, he has released a number of solo albums in a cool, easy swinging style similar to Mose Allison. His early albums relied on acoustic instruments and lyrical references to his musical heroes. Later releases used electronic instruments and tasty synthesizers for an interesting sound best presented on albums like 1985's On the Cool Side and Cool Paradise from 1990.[allmusic] Here
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